Animal control officers in Northland fielded more than 8500 dog complaints — or 23 a day — in just one year while the number of pooches registered also saw a significant jump in some areas.
The annual reports on dog control in the 12 months to the end of June show there were 4802 complaints made to the Whangārei District Council, 2165 to the Far North District Council and 1584 in Kaipara.
In Whangārei, dog registration increased by nearly 3000, from 9081 to 12,019 in the year to June.
WDC manager health and bylaws Reiner Mussle said the council would continue to further engage with community groups and schools to provide dog safety education to high-risk and hard-to-reach communities.
She said the council would also proactively increase registration rates and identify unknown dogs as well as ensuring compliance with classification of menacing type dogs.
"Future work will be focused on encouraging responsible dog ownership, concentrating on the registration and compliance of dogs along with increased enforcement."
Kaipara District Council team leader licensing Rachel Sheppard said the 1584 complaints of aggressive, attacking, barking, wandering and those that have been "contained" by members of the public were about 300 more than the previous year.
There were 5101 registered dogs in Kaipara at the end of June.
Irate residents, particularly in and around Dargaville, have over the years slammed KDC for its alleged lack of action over wandering dogs that have created fear in those going on their morning and afternoon walks.
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Dargaville resident Graham Jones said he wasn't surprised at the number of dog complaints which he believed didn't reflect the true picture because many cases were not reported.
"The problem will largely still exist after the council moves its animal control services in-house, unless they have sufficient staff to deal with the issue and to restore public confidence."
Jones said people were still scared to walk the streets.
"Recent publicity has got more people speaking to each other and plucking up the courage to make complaints to the council," he said.
Another Dargaville resident Isobel Ross echoed similar sentiments, saying dogs were on the loose all the time despite the council's enforcement action.
"The stats are not really a surprise. Some households may have up to three dogs and then there's the issue of affordability but then again, if you care for your animals you're going to look after them."
Ross said KDC bringing animal control in-house wouldn't be effective unless sufficient staff were employed to cover a large area.
Jones initiated a petition early this year which was presented to KDC, calling on council staff to go house to house to check on the number of dogs on properties, how many were registered, and how they were being managed.
A spate of complaints about wandering dogs prompted KDC to ditch its contractor Armourguard and bring animal control and other services in-house before the end of this year.
Sheppard said a reasonable number of non-registered dogs were identified and resulted in more dogs being registered, together with the identification and registration of others that were previously unknown to KDC and subsequently also registered.
"The door-to-door visits also undertook checks for compliance with microchipping requirements for non-working dogs."
In comparison with previous years, Sheppard said a similar number of dogs have been impounded, released, rehomed or euthanised.
She said a harder line was being taken against wandering dogs and dog attacks.
"The stance to take firmer action with irresponsible dog owners and dog owners that fail to microchip their dogs has resulted in enforcement proceedings by way of infringement notices being issued for non-compliance."
There were 63 complaints of dog attacks, 298 of barking dogs, 390 of wandering, 792 of others such as worrying stock and fouling, 99 dogs were impounded and 249 infringement notices issued in Kaipara.
In the Far North District, the 14 successful prosecutions for dog attacks represented an increase of 10 from the previous season which the council said reflected public belief in animal control services.
A combination of more signs, dog education days, and working in partnership with the SPCA contributed to better awareness about dog control and behaviour, FNDC said.
Northland dog control statistics
• Number of registered dogs — 28,180
• Dog-related complaints — 8551
• Number of prosecutions — 24
• Dog attacks — 579
• Wandering dogs — 2853
• Number of unregistered dogs — 1082
• Infringement notices issued — 1187